Gwen O’Reilly grows organic Alliums, among other things in the Kaministiquia Valley in Northwestern Ontario, and is a contributing editor for The Canadian Organic Grower.
Onions are one of the oldest cultivated crops, and there are many representatives of the Allium family in my garden: leeks, chives, garlic, shallots, Welsh onions and Egyptian onions. But in this article, I’ll concentrate on Allium cepa— the common onion.
Reminiscent of summer afternoons, childhood and the smell of fresh pie, the berry evokes many pleasant associations. I, like many others, have spent many happy, hot hours over a boiling vat of fresh fruit because I am an obsessive berry picker and putter-upper.
Hey, we’re Canadian, right? We’re not afraid of a little cold weather, especially here in the winter sunshine capital of Canada. Sure, lows in the minus 30s and even 40s are common, but that shouldn’t stop a truly intrepid gardener.
“Can’t be done, huh?” That was Carol Ford and Chuck Waibel’s response when they were told they couldn’t grow vegetables in winter in windy, west central Minnesota without incurring prohibitive fuel costs.
“Northern Ontario does not possess any Class 1 soils [i.e. soils suitable for crop production], but does feature areas with Class 2 to 4 soils, which can support viable agricultural production if free of severe constraints.”
Some key members of the organic community have suggested recently that marketing boards have become the major obstacle to the growth of sustainable agriculture in Canada. They have stated that although supply management may have served a purpose at one time, it is now just a barrier to new entrants, and to potential organic and niche opportunities.